Schlettwein, farmers deny Omaheke of multi-billion dollar mining investment
• BY UAUEZA KANGUATJIVI AND JO-MARIE ORTNER
A mining investment opportunity which promises create more than 600 jobs in the Omaheke region and grow Namibia’s Gross Domestic (GDP) by two percent seem to be dwindling away after Minister of Agriculture, Calle Schlettwein, with the influence of some farmers from the region prevented exploration by Russian Uranium mining giant Rosatom.
Despite assurance from experiences of similar mining methods in Russia, Uzbekistan and Khazakstan where farming and mining co-existed, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, has maintained its stance in denying drilling permits to a Russian Consortium, claiming the exercise would be hazardous and cannot co-exist with farming activities.
Rosatom, through one of its subsidiaries, Uranium One plans to establish a Uranium Mining Plant in the vicinity of Leonardville where it has discovered huge Uranium deposits with the potential to create 600 jobs and propel Namibia’s economic growth by at least two percent in the initial first years of operations. Rosatom has already invested N$900 million in the preliminary stages without reaping any profits.
Rosatom has also offered to convert Namibia’s abundant Uranium deposit by building a Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in order to reduce Namibia’s electricity reliance on South Africa and eventually export electricity to its neighbouring countries.
Rosatom maintains its mining methods which have been successful in Russia and other countries are safe and will not contaminate underground water.
“This is an opportunity to get people of Leonardville out of abject poverty and improve their living conditions,” said Omaheke Governor Pio Nganate in an interview with Confidente.
Nganate alleged that the few farmers are opposed to the Uranium mining in the area of Loenardvile because they rely on cheap labour from the unemployed people in the area.
Nganate said Omaheke was the third poorest region in Namibia with 65 percent of unemployment. The Governor has visited several countries where Rosatom has been mining with evidence that its mining methods are not hazardous to the health and environmental friendly.
President of Uranium One, Andrey Shutov told Confidente the method of extracting Uranium in Omahaeke region was less costly because of the low grade of Uranium unlike the regular methods being used in Usab and Langerheinrich.
This Ministry maintains that carrying out Uranium mining activities in the area will lead to a health hazard which will affect drinking water in the surrounding areas.
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